More hand sewing

Well, another step in my hand sewing progress. I didn’t ever think I’d start hand piecing in a non English paper piecing way and yet…here I am.

I’m making up some 4-patches with scrap fabric!

I’m trying to figure out what parts of sewing projects I want to take with me on vacation. These four patches are going to go into my version of the Oh My Gosh quilt. I didn’t buy the pattern but as a math person at heart, I knew it would be fairly easy to deconstruct the pattern from pictures I’d seen. I’m using 1.5″ square scraps for these.


Progress report, week 21

I wanted to try to post a progress report every week but wow, time sure flies! I finish a progress post and hit publish on Monday and the next thing I know, it’s Monday again! Where did the week go? I’ve been working on projects but I feel like I just posted something!

Since the last progress report, I DID alter that dress! I think I’ll do a more detailed blog post about it but it’s done!

The fabric was very slippery and there was a lining to the bodice so I had to baste the bodice pieces together to be able to work with it easily. I took in the side bodice seams slightly and raised the waistline and the hem. I even wore it out and around this past weekend and it was great! I didn’t have to worry about the hem dragging on the ground. I didn’t feel dumpy and boxy wearing this oddly shaped dress on my body.

I also whipped up a quick project with some scraps. I pulled out all of my 1.5″ blue strips out and sewed them end to end. Then I cut up some fusible fleece to 1 inch strips and centered them on my blue strips and ironed them down. And then I made a fabric basket! The base has a diameter of about 7 inches and it’s actually a pretty good size!

I’ve also been chugging along on Penrose. It’s getting big enough and I think (I hope!) that I have enough fabric to square it out. I’ve already checked with the quilt shop that I purchased the fabric from. Because they’re batiks, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Eek!

As for Grassy Creek, I completed clue 5, the 9 patches and other random bits and have continued onto clue 6 which is the string pieced greys. The string pieced grey are all string pieced and I’m working on the white/neutral corners now.

Tray with clues 3-5

And just for kicks, I jumped ahead to the seventh and last clue and put a couple of blocks together. Looking pretty good!

Assembling my pieces

It’s looking pretty good! The blocks are enough pop of color to make me happy and I hope it remains so once I mix in the greys!

That’s it for this week! In the upcoming week, I hope to keep working through and completing clue 6 and can start June assembling the top. My ultimate goal is to make a trip to the quilt shop at the end of June/early July to get border fabric for both Grassy Creek and Penrose. Grassy Creek is do-able for completion. Penrose…I’m not sure but I’ll definitely need to just put in the time.

Progress report, week 16

That is, it’s week 16 of the year 2021.

In keeping myself accountable for working through materials and projects, here’s what I did last week.


I had about 5 yards of cotton lawn that I wanted to make up into some 1910 style chemises. I hadn’t set up my sewing machine yet so I decided to hand stitch both of them. Sure, it goes MUCH faster on a sewing machine but I figured that even at my beginner hand stitching pace, it would only take me an hour or two for a long seam.

A finished chemise

As you can see, the cotton lawn is pretty transparent, and so I put it on the dress form. I’ve been wearing this as a night dress since I don’t have another occasion to wear this right now. In the future, I may add some lace to the neck line so that I can thread a ribbon through it so it doesn’t hang open like that, but that would be the only adjustment to both of them. I also added a tag to the back. I hand stitched down the seams so it is incredibly difficult to tell front from back and inside from out so the tag helps!

Clothing tag

Pin cushions!

I found myself with a greater need for a functional pin cushion as I started to sew again. In the process of moving, I threw out a couple of pin cushions that had served their purpose and I knew I wanted to make a pin cushion out of a tea cup that is part of a set that belonged to my mother. Once I finished the chemises, it was onto the pin cushions.

If you search for how to make a pin cushion, you’ll find that there are a couple of different sets of instructions. One version is more for a pillow type pin cushion. You sew around three edges of a rectangle and part of a fourth. Then you turn it right side out, stuff it until you can’t stuff it anymore and then sew the seam closed. I started out with this method, but for a round pin cushion. The could also double as leg-less tuffets for a dollhouse.

The blue one fit just fine into the votive candle holder, but the white one was too big to fit into the tea cup. If I had made the top and bottom circles a little smaller, and adjusted the side piece accordingly, it probably would have fit. At this size, the stuffing expanded it out so much it just didn’t fit.

So I made another pin cushion. I used the other pin cushion method since it was getting late and I didn’t feel like fiddling with sewing small seams on small circles. This is the method that involves cinching a piece of fabric closed around a bunch of stuff. This video from the Missouri Star Quilt Company can better describe the process. Once I had my pin cushion ball cinched up, I trimmed off the fabric ends and then I actually traced a circle of fabric to cover up the mess:

Finishing the bottom of the pin cushion

No one will ever see this but I will know! Also, I find that this makes the bottom much cleaner so that I can better glue it to the tea cup. At this point, the pin cushions are essentially done. All that is left is to find the glue gun so I can glue them all into their respective containers. I know I packed the glue gun but I don’t remember where I packed it.

Other WIPs

There was the glove. I finished the glove for the right hand and cast on for the left. It’s too warm now for gloves but I’ll be ready for next winter!

Right glove

I took my old chemise that I had made out of quilting cotton (comfortable but weightier than it should be) and cut out the bodice for the By Hand London Anna dress. I really wanted it to fit well based on all of the pictures I saw so I wanted to take the time to get the fit just right. Anyways, I need to find some matching thread and an invisible zipper and my first non essential trip out after the second vaccine will probably be to JoAnn’s to do this. It also gives me the time to play around with the duvet cover to make sure it won’t drape awkwardly.

Mock up for Anna dress

I pulled out Grassy Creek. This was the 2020 Mystery Quilt from Bonnie Hunter. I love her scrappy designs and decided to follow along this year. In early January, about 4 clues in, I had a move date and so I packed up what I had and set it all aside. I saved the remaining clues as they came out, knowing I would pick it all back up at some later time. I had already finished clues 1 and 2 before the move. This is my tray of clue 3 pieces.

Grassy Creek, clue 3

Finally, there’s Penrose (no picture). This has been a long term English paper pieced project. I finally found the bag of paper templates I was working with before the move so I don’t have to cut out more templates! I think my goal for this one is to have the quilt top done by this fall so I can sandwich it up and snuggle underneath in the evenings while I hand quilt.

That’s it for this update. This week, more Grassy Creek, more Penrose!

Seeing the forest for the trees

Last month, I finally finished the Esmeralda Quilt! Looking through the pictures on my phone, I saw that I was working on this two years ago. Two!

I loved how the pattern of the pieces implies circles and yet, there’s only straight lines involved, no actual curves. I got my layer cakes and got started. As I worked along, I started to lose motivation.

First, as I was squaring the edges, I found that the pieces making up some of the edges were not even. If it was a smidge off, that’s fine. But there were a couple of blocks where there was more than a quarter inch difference. A quarter inch being my seam allowance, that meant I either had to keep trimming all the blocks down further or I couldn’t use that block. I ended up discarding that block. Thankfully, there were only a couple of blocks I had this happen on and I had extra fabric to make additional blocks.

Second, as I started sewing the blocks together into my first row, the corners were not quite matching up. I’ve mostly worked through my perfectionist tendencies but this bothered me. Can you see where the corners don’t quite match up in the picture?

Third, I was planning on doing a piano keys border and the thought of that, well, let’s say that I wasn’t looking forward to it.

And it could have been that I had been staring at this quilt for too long. Or it could have been all of the frustrations, but while I loved the fabric collection when I saw the layer cake, I was starting to dislike the fabric choice.

And so, the blocks all ended up in a bin until this year. Quarantine happened and I was going through my fabric stash and decided that regardless of my feelings about this quilt, I would ignore the imperfections of the blocks and start putting it together. I still wasn’t looking forward to the piano keys border. As the blocks turned into rows, magic happened! The little nit picky things like corners very obviously not matching became harder to see. I also decided against the piano keys. Instead, I was just going to sew some extra strips together, end to end to do a scrappy border.

The more the quilt top came together, the more I started to love this quilt. Even the colors were coming together! The actual quilting design was a big spiral and it went pretty quickly. I barely had enough fabric for the border. Confession time, because this project had been on pause, I was pretty sure I had bought fabric for the border but I couldn’t quite remember until I found it.

I love the finished quilt. It all really came together and I think I made the perfect choice on the border color. This is definitely one where I had to stop focusing on each piece of fabric and take a step back to see the whole picture, or quilt as it is.

Sewing Along

I haven’t added to this blog but I’ve definitely been sewing! My current project is the Esmeralda Quilt from the Moda Bakeshop. I love that from straight lines, you can have the illusion of curves!

I’ve been sewing along on my Juki. All I need is straight stitch. This was a project where I had the layer cake and needed a pattern and stumbled upon the pattern.


The pattern is composed of two blocks as you can see in the picture. I’ve got the quarters of each square sewn up and am working on sewing together each block.


A couple of years ago, I was introduced to Penrose tiles, a non-periodic tiling pattern, by a person of great significance in my life. The first time I saw it, I knew that one day, I would have a version of it in quilt form. At the time, he had been writing some code to generate a picture of the Penrose tiles and that was the picture I saw. The tiling and the colors he used were my original inspiration.


A quick search of the internet found very few quilts made using Penrose. With the number of adjoining corners, I knew I was going to have to do this by way of English paper piecing. For the templates, these are not your standard angled rhombus shapes so I had to cut my own. I was able to get the code from my original inspiration and after some tinkering, I printed out my pattern pieces in a size I wanted.

For the fabric, I’ve bought a lot of fabric trying to find something that would work. I am currently on my third set of fabric.

In the first iteration, I had run into the quilt shop and ran out with 2 blue and 2 yellow fabrics. They were mostly solids. Once I started sewing, I could see immediately that they did not sit well together and the contrast between shades was too abrupt and harsh. I had this feeling when I was picking them out but I decided to go ahead with it anyways.

In the second iteration, I spent a little more time at the quilt shop and came away with 4 blue prints and 4 yellow prints. I still wasn’t sure but again, I went ahead with it. After I began sewing, problems I noticed included, again, fabric differences were abrupt and harsh when placed next to each other in this tiling pattern, and the actual patterning on the fabric was distracting and not appropriate for the tiles.

Last weekend, I went to a different quilt shop because I needed to get out of the house and go somewhere. I had been thinking about Penrose again and thought about using some batiks. Batik fabrics, because of being dyed rather than printed, can have various shades on a single piece of fabric so I thought this would be interesting to try. Also, instead of those half sized blue tiles that the image has, there’s more flexibility in fabric color so I decided I would stick with the whole blue and yellow pieces. This would also cut down on the bulk at the sharp corners where the pieces joined, another problem I ran into on the previous iterations.


I started with the bolt in the middle with the blue background and the yellow flower/leaf motif. Those were the two shades I wanted to use. From there, I tried to stick with blues and yellows still within range of that bolt but making sure it varied slightly both on the lighter and darker side. There’s more blues than yellows in the pattern so I have more blue fabric.

As I was walking around the quilt store, I realized that batiks was a very good choice for the shades of blue and yellow I wanted because I could only find the shades in the batiks. When I walked through the print section, the color was either too dark or too light and overall not what I wanted. (Also, without a car, getting to a quilt shop is difficult so I was going to make/buy the most of it)

After getting home, I got down to work. I was very happy with the beginning and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It’s all I want to do these days! Similar to knitting, once I find a pattern I like and materials I enjoy working with, the motivation is there in large quantities.


When I first started on this project a couple of years ago, I wanted to make a quilt. After the first two iterations and my frustrations with it, I lowered expectations to an 18″ x 18″ pillow. Now, with these fabrics, I’m back to the quilt. I have the idea drawn out and I plan on going back to get more fabric to make sure that I have enough.

Hand piecing a large portion of a queen sized quilt is going to take some time but I am going to enjoy the process the entire way!

Progressing on the quilt


When I bought my new Juki TL2010Q, I was concerned about whether or not a king size quilt can fit comfortable in it. Well, I’ve gotten started on my quilting and yes, it can! As with most home machines, you’re limited in how much room you have to move that quilt around.

What I found worked best was to sew in a small area and making sure to keep the quilt supported. King size quilts are HEAVY! I’m very happy with the quilting for now. I’m getting ready to switch designs and maybe add some wavy swirls and trying to figure out how much movement that involves.

The Juki is definitely easier to quilt on than my old Singer since it has the extended table and a larger throat. It certainly doesn’t beat a long arm or even a mid arm but for an affordable at home machine that doesn’t take up a whole room, I’m very happy with it. I’ll just keep quilting along!

Board basting

I woke up yesterday morning and watched the Royal Wedding while getting started on sandwiching a king sized quilt. I’m working on a king size quilt as a wedding present and since I embarked on this project, I had been trying to figure out how to best sandwich this. I live in an apartment in the middle of the city and there just isn’t enough space.

Then I read about board basting where you smooth and roll your backing onto a base board and you smooth and roll your quilt top onto another base board. You still need a long flat space but at least you don’t need a flat space the full size of the quilt.

The backing goes down first and I left about 18 inches to 2 ft of it unrolled and smooth out on the floor. Then, I laid down the batting. Finally, I placed the quilt top down. Then, as I smooth everything down, I safety pinned it all in place.


I had to do a little bit at a time since opening and closing the safety pins made my hands really sore. Plus, it’s a bit of a work out as you crawl around trying to pin and then having to unroll and smooth. I even went grocery shopping half way through! I was finished by the afternoon and I’m really excited. Time to quilt!


Have a heart!

It was love at first sight when I saw Lella Boutique’s Open Heart quilt. I’m not usually into a lot of hearts but I really liked this! I bought the pattern and it has sat on my computer for close to a year. I want to keep a white background and use some scraps from some of my favorite fabrics for the hearts. Additionally, I want to make a couple of modifications: more blocks for a queen size quilt and sashing between each block.

This quilt has been on my mind since I bought it but I’ve had other projects take priority. Right now, I’m waiting for more thread for one quilt and I need to sandwich another quilt. Since I’m using scraps, I can make a block here or there so today, I made my first block using some awesome Alice in Wonderland fabric from Cotton and Steel.